Lost in Translation #4 - The Prince Of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Hello everyone !

Lost in Translation is a meme, hosted here, organised to appeal to the curious international reader in you to discover foreign authors and even encourage you to read some books in their original language ! How exciting ! Wouhou !

For a presentation of the meme, you can go here or email me here (I love receiving emails!)

The meme has a few tiny rules:
- Check if the book is translated in English and available (country and online/bookstores) and specify it in your post
- It would be nice to follow the "Language Corner" where you say to which level the book is suitable for people who might want to read the book in its original language
- And finally: Enjoy and Spread the love ! 

So today I am going to break my own rule of French and Italian author to write a review about Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafón and his debut YA novel The Prince of Mist that has just been translated in English.

I discovered Carlos Ruiz Zafón a few summers ago when my mom told me to read this book. You have to know that my mom is an avid reader like me and that my parents have a bookshop/news-stand in France. Now before you start getting all jealous, there is an incredibly annoying thing: we don't read the same books at all. She just can't read anything remotely linked to Fantasy and Science Fiction (you understand now why I couldn't live under the same roof and had to exile myself to another country) and I find mystery novels and Douglas Kennedy a bit so so. 

So when she told me during a summer "you should definitely read The Shadow of the Wind", I was like "Meh, I can't, the new Harry Potter is coming out, I need to say no to social life and read it ten times". Good for me I didn't listen to myself and actually read the book (after reading Harry Potter ten times, that goes without saying).  The Shadow of The Wind is as much a great fiction book as an ode to people who like books and reading.

Anyways, all this boring and useless story to say that when I saw that one of his YA books was being translated in English (it was published in 1993 in Spain), I was just really really excited!!!

The Prince of Mist
by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Summary from Amazon:
Max Carver's father - a watchmaker and inventor - decides to move his family to a small town on the coast, to an old house that once belonged to a prestigious surgeon, Dr Richard Fleischmann. But the house holds many secrets and stories of its own. Behind it is an overgrown garden full of statues surrounded by a metal fence topped with a six-pointed star. When he goes to investigate, Max finds that the statues seem to consist of a kind of circus troop with the large statue of a clown at its centre. Max has the curious sensation that the statue is beckoning to him. As the family settles in they grow increasingly uneasy: they discover a box of old films belonging to the Fleischmanns; his sister has disturbing dreams and his other sister hears voices whispering to her from an old wardrobe. They also discover the wreck of a boat that sank many years ago in a terrible storm. Everyone on board perished except for one man - an engineer who built the lighthouse at the end of the beach. During the dive, Max sees something that leaves him cold - on the old mast floats a tattered flag with the symbol of the six-pointed star. As they learn more about the wreck, the chilling story of the Prince of the Mists begins to emerge.

I can't even begin to tell you how much I loved this book!!

Everything I loved from The Shadow of The Wind is there, with a paranormal young adult spin (aka *perfection*). I loved following Max and his sister Alicia through this adventure. The characters are very well described and they feel so real with their tiny flaws and habits that it is a real pleasure to read. This book has the atmosphere of old gothic/horror novels where the characters are in a pretty regular setting and then something unexpected, dark and frightening happens which turns the situation upside down.

Reading this story has made me think about how fortunate we are today in Europe, USA and other countries not to have a war going on inside our frontiers. Of course many of our troups may be waging war/bringing peace in parts of the world, but we don't really know what a civil war is anymore. In this book, the setting is Second World War Spain. The country had been living a very brutal Civil War from 1936 and when WWII broke out, Spain aligned itself with Germany at first but progressively adopted a neutral stance. When the story of Max Carver starts in 1943, Spain doesn't take part in the Second World War but is a dictature with a very strong repression which will only end in 1975. You can read The Shadow of The Wind if you want to have an idea on how much the Franco regime has scarred the Spanish psyche. 

Sorry, I got a little carried away here! Anyways, I *love* reading a good fiction where I learn something about history or another culture (which sort of the aim of this meme) and here I loved looking at this family obliged to move cities to avoid the war. The story is told from a third person point of view, and I liked how it seemed to give more insight to the characters' personalities. The themes of growing up are very well treated in the book, and I loved the romance which builds up between Alicia and Roland.

I have to admit that the absence of both parents from a large part of the book is what I would call quite a convenient plot development but which doesn't kill the whole story either. The universe created by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is so rich, and yet not completely overwhelming, that any weakness is instantly forgotten.

I am fervently hoping that his three other Young Adult novels will get translated soon!!

This is book is such a quick enjoyable story that it is the perfect summer read. I would advise it to anyone going to the beach this summer (since part of the book takes place on a beach during the summer). You probably won't look at those seemingly harmless shadows lurking under your feet in the water the same way. 
Just saying ;-)

Language corner:
Since the book is aimed at young adults, the language used is quite simple. I am estimating that an intermediate/upper-intermediate level would be enough to read the book.

Where to find the book:
UK: Waterstones, Amazon
USA: Barnes and Nobles, Amazon

Thanks so much to Jo from Ink and Paper and Once Upon a Bookcase for giving me a copy of this book!!!

To take part in the meme :
- Write your name
- The name of your blog
- In parenthesis if it is the first, second time or more you participate
- In parenthesis which language it is
- Link to the LiT post, not your blog !

Exemple: Caroline @ Portrait of a Woman (4, Spanish)

If what you post doesn't look like that, I will retaliate. Live in fear.

My So-Called Afterlife - Tamsyn Murray

Title: My So-Called Afterlife

Author: Tamsyn Murray

Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Category: YA
Release Date: 2010
Source: Bought it during an author event + book signing
Paperback : 184 pages

"I knew it was time to move on when a tramp peed on my Uggs..." Meet Lucy Shaw. She's not your average fifteen year old - for a start, she's dead. And as if being a ghost wasn't bad enough, she's also trapped haunting the men's toilets on Carnaby Street. So when a lighting engineer called Jeremy walks in and she realises he can see and hear her, she isn't about to let him walk out of her afterlife. Not least until he's updated her on what's happening in her beloved soaps. With Jeremy's help, Lucy escapes the toilet and is soon meeting up with other ghosts, including the perpetually enraged Hep and the snogtastic Ryan. But when Jeremy suggests Lucy track down the man who murdered her, things go down hill. Can Lucy face up to the events of that terrible night? And what will it cost her if she does?


No, you are not suffering from déjà-vu, I have just reviewed Tamsyn Murray's book for younger readers about Harriet Houdini the Stunt Bunny, and I loved it so much that I immediately picked up Tamsyn's debut YA novel!

Needless to say that, yet again, I have looked like a crazy person laughing out loud on the tube... I love this book!

What I love the most is that Tamsyn Murray takes a situation - the ghost of a girl brutally murdered in a toilet on Carnaby Street - and creates a very unexpected story out of it. When I read the summary, I assumed different things about Lucy's murderer, her family and what she would want to do with the help of Jeremy.

But this is not actually what happens, Lucy's death marks the beginning of a new existence and the only thing she wants from her old life is to be kept up to date with soap operas. She discovers, with the help of Jeremy, all the tricks to her new existence (yes, I've read Twilight  too many times and have just changed "life" to "existence" everywhere). She meets friendly ghosts like Hep and slightly less friendly ones like Kimberly. And she obviously meets a cute boy: Ryan is handsome *and* he has many things in common with Lucy. Ghost romance rules!

I loved the relationship Lucy and Jeremy have: they are very unique characters and get along really well (without it looking weird because she's a teen and he's an adult). Though they are different and sometimes don't understand each other, they form a very strong bond. I liked all the characters and it was interesting to read about the stories of the other ghosts and why they might be ghosts. I particularly enjoyed reading Hep's story. 

Serious issues are talked about but the story doesn't heavily linger on them. In the sense that yes horrible things happen to people and they're always unfair, but it's the same for everyone, so what do we do now instead of lamenting on them. I find Lucy's character very interesting, she has this fighting spirit in her that just makes her even more adorable. 

But the most important thing is Tamsyn Murray's writing. The book is so funny and surprising that when you look back at your entire bookcase (hidden ones, unconfessed book crushes and long-time favorites included), it will just stand-out as a unique story with an even more exceptional writing.

This book is such a treat that I would advise it to everyone and I absolutely can't wait to read My So-Called Haunting (which isn't a sequel per se, just a story coming from the same world) which will come out in September 2010!

Harriet Houdini, Stunt Bunny: Showbiz Sensation - Tamsyn Murray

Title: Harriet Houdini - Stunt Bunny: Showbiz Sensation

Author: Tamsyn Murray
 Illustrations: Lee Wildish

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books
Category: 5+
Release Date: 2010
Source: Bought it during an author event + book signing
Paperback : 124 pages

Meet Harriet Houdini, a young rabbit with lots of attitude, as she settles into life with her new family. Never destined to be a boring bunny, Harriet finds herself scouted by the producer of hit TV show Superpets and starts her career on the showbiz ladder. From daring backflips to thrilling escape attempts Harriet really is a Stunt Bunny extraordinaire! 


Look at that bunny, 
isn't it the sweetest most precious little thing you've ever seen?

I most entirely fell in love with this book even though I am now quite older than the age group targeted (legally that is, since I am still very much a 5 year old at heart).

The book is incredibly well written, every sentence is a treat. Tamsyn is so funny that even older readers laugh out loud while reading. I definitely need to stop reading in the tube or else I'll be sent to a mental hospital soon. If you have read My So-Called Afterlife, which is Tamsyn Murray YA novel, then you must know what I'm talking about.
And if you haven't, do so. Immediately!
The illustrations are insanely cute *awww* (yes, I secretly want a poster of Harriet in my room, sue me).

I absolutely love the plot and the characters. Harriet is a super fun super strong bunny with plenty attitude. All the other characters are extremely fun, may they be humans, animals or magicians with an accent. You will surely laugh out loud at Doodle the poodle and its owner who share the same hair style (don't all poodle owners do?) and the other animals.

I like the reality TV setting, I can't wait for the next books!

Anyways, this is a story and a character that is extremely cute and fun, and I will be following Harriet's adventures very closely!!

Three backflips of celebration !

Doing It - Melvin Burgess + Writer Event

Title: Doing It

Author: Melvin Burgess

Publisher: Penguin
Category: YA
Release Date: 2003
Source: Bought it during an author event + book signing
Paperback : 330 pages

Dino really fancies fit, sexy Jackie, but she just won't give him what he wants ; Jonathan likes Deborah, but she's a bit fat, what will his mates say? ; Ben's been secretly shagging his teacher for ages. He used to love it, but what if he wants to stop? 

Three lads discovering sex for the first time. But do any of them really know what they're doing?


First of all, I am deeply sorry for having made myself scarce on the blogosphere this past week, work has been crazy! To be forgiven (hopefully), I will be writing today about a very special UK author that I had the opportunity to discover in a conference and whom you should totally check out if you don't already know him!!

So last Saturday, the ever-lovely Becky @ The Bookette kindly invited me to a Melvin Burgess event with Jo @ Once Upon a Bookcase and Ink and Paper and Non from Catnip Publishing
For a complete summary of the event, check out Becky's article since she took plenty notes and pictures !

I had never heard of Melvin Burgess before (how rude of me, I know) and I discovered this author's unique perspective on YA literature at the conference. I - obviously - immediately wanted to read one of his books and I was advised this one.

Doing It is one of the most interesting YA book I have read in my entire life. It is hilarious, incredibly well written and disturbingly accurate (oh yes, I'm looking at you boys).

First, the book is told from the point of view of three male teenagers (lethal combination if you ask me) or where looking in the brain of a boy is definitely less attractive than looking at their sixpack
Second, the book is about relationships seen from the point of view of these same three or where you realise that boys hardly think beyond their "knob" (as if you needed a confirmation of some sort)
Third, the book is a combination of first person point of view of different characters and third person narrator or where you see a situation from all the angles, just in case you weren't horrified enough. No I'm kidding, I love the multiple narrators, it is unsettling at first but definitely brilliant!

It is frankly quite horrifying to be in their heads, seriously, you find yourself reading about knob problems, needing to have sex, double-timing your girlfriend because she doesn't want to have sex, not wanting to go out with the girl of your dream because she is fat and being conscious of the need to look as cool as the other boys.

And you thought women problems were worse....
As said on the cover of the book, this book will
a) make you a feminist
b) make you look at your father, brother and fellow (male) classmates with brand new eyes
c) put you off boys until you're 30 and they (hopefully) matured
d) make you weep for the future of humanity

Who's sexist?

It is very interesting the type of peer-pressure boys encounter during their teenage years in opposition to women. It is nice to be in boys' heads and see what there is - if something there is. Teenage years are a very tough period for everyone, it is the time where you more or less find out who you are and who you would like to become. 
It was interesting to hear Melvin Burgess talk about his own teenage years and the fact that at one point he decided to be a writer, but more specifically, what kind of writer and person he wanted to be. I like how people, and writers in particular, develop a certain philosophy of life, and you can see some hints of it scattered in all their books. His three characters go through a period of doubt, may it be from their love life or their family issues, and they start taking decisions that will probably influence their life in the future. I really liked how you are witnessing those three boys at breaking points in their lives where somehow they'll grow up (not to be adults exactly, but to progressively leave their childhood). 

Or maybe I'm being a girl over-analysing the whole thing. 

Unlike many YA books written by adults, Melvin Burgess writes credible teenage dialogues. Though there are other narrators (including girls), the story follows three clueless morons best friends during their hormone-fueled teenage years.

One character is Dino, the hot confident guy everyone loves and respects. But he is in love with one girl who doesn't want to give him what he wants (as in sex). He is also in the middle of a family crisis and despite what he thinks, it has a real effect on his modjo (yes, I must have watched Austin Powers way too many times)

Then there is Ben who is a nice respectful teen. He is well liked by everyone because of his personality and he is best friends with Dino and Jonathan. But Ben has a secret: he has been with his teacher for as long as he can remember and he misses the teenage experience. I found his story very interesting because it takes the theme of "taking advantage of" to a whole new level with it being an older woman (25 years old) with a young boy. No matter how Ben might think himself "lucky to have sex with a girl who knows what she is doing", he is still being taken advantage of and I find it interesting how he deals with it in the end.

The last one is Jonathan. Jonathan is the funny guy always cracking joke. He is also the weird guy who thinks about horrible things all the time and strongly believes he has a secret ailment that will make him die soon in atrocious circumstances *sigh*. I have to admit that each time Jonathan is narrating I am laughing out loud. He has such a male a weird conception of things relating to sex, sexual organs and other things that he develops very urm... "personal" beliefs. You actually should only read the book for him. 

One thing for sure, no matter how cool they want to play it, these boys are very obviously clueless and vulnerable. 

I find all the characters very well described and extremely believable. This is one thing I love about Melvin Burgess, after I heard him talk about it. He describes teenagers as they are and not how they should be. His teenagers are mainly clueless about plenty things, they hang out and don't do anything else, some smoke, have sex, take drugs and say/do very stupid things. They are not adults in disguise or pinnacles of virtue. They are the result of some genetic stuff and an education gained at home and in schools. Nothing more.

This is another aspect of Melvin Burgess that I really enjoy, it is his ability not to shy away from difficult subjects. He is not writing to tell teenagers to have sex early or to take drugs. He is writing about teenagers who do and what happens to them. Because, as sad as it might be, quite a lot of teenagers do use drugs and have sex starting at a relatively young age.
As he said during the conference, when he read books for younger readers, he thought that they were very far from the truth and that's why he decided, in part, to become a writer and write about those issues in particular, which are often overlooked or written in quite a moralistic manner.

Anyways, this is a must read since a book in a boy point of view, with a brilliant writing and which is going to make you laugh out loud so many times is a rare sweet little thing to treasure (I'm obviously talking about the book here). And I will be checking out all other Melvin Burgess books!

For pictures and a complete summary of the event (which is waaaay less confusing than what I just wrote!), please visit Becky @ The Bookette's post (here) !!!

Forbidden - Tabitha Suzuma

Title: Forbidden
Author: Tabitha Suzuma

Publisher: Definitions (Random House Children's Books)
Category: Romance
Release Date: 3rd June 2010
Source: Sent to me by Random House for review
Hardcover: 418 pages

She is pretty and talented - sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But ...They are brother and sister. Forbidden will take you on an extraordinary emotional journey. Passionate and shocking, this is a book you will remember long after you have put it down.


What a powerful book! 
When Random House sent me this book for review, I was intrigued by the subject and was eager to read it. At first, I had to read the first paragraphs quite a few times to understand what was written, but then I turned to the second page and was immediately hooked on the story. I read it in a few days and, surprisingly, found myself thinking about the story and its characters all the time.

The book is told from the perspective of both Lochan and Maya, which was extremely interesting, especially the chapters in Lochan's head, since he is a very unique character. The family is composed of Lochan and Maya, the eldests; Kit who is 13 years old and starting to hang out with the wrong crowd; Tiffin who is a hyperactive 9 year old and lovely Willa who is an adorable 5 year old. Their father left when Lochan was 12 years old, and their mother starts to progressively neglect them, leaving all the responsabilities to Lochan and Maya to raise their three younger siblings. I really loved all the characters in the book, they seem so real that I half thought this was based on a true story.

The book is beautifully written and describes with aching accuracy the raw emotions felt by Lochan and Maya when they discover they have to become parents to those three children and when they realise the feelings they have for each other go beyond brotherly feelings. Though Maya resembles many girls her own age, Lochan is a very troubled teenager who has issues communicating with people other than his family and can't talk in public. He is always studying and taking care of his family.

The intensity of their relationship is very well described throughout the book and you end up questionning yourself if their relationship is really wrong. I am remembering my Uni classes on societies where I learned that the one thing societies have in common, all societies in the world and throughout history, is the prohibition of incest (parent/child, siblings). Incest has therefore been defined as one of the very few things considered as naturally wrong (as opposed to culturally). Tabitha Suzuma's book is extremely interesting because no matter how much disgusting incest seems, you really empathise with Lochan and Maya.

There is one thing that has been bugging me a little throughout the book though, it is the constant autoanalysis of Lochan and Maya about their feelings for each other. Their relationship seems so genuine that even though I am not pro-incest (who could ever be?) I understand their perspective. Even without the autoanalysis. 
I feel that, had they lived with present and caring parents, their relationship would have stayed one between siblings. But the lack of love from either of their parents and the need to love and be loved was too strong for these two who have more or less a year of difference and always thought of themselves as partners and best friends rather than brother and sister.

Their love has a "forever" kind of feeling, which is a must in love stories. Brother and sister might bicker and dislike each other, but they will always, always love each other no matter what, and this love is stronger for Lochan and Maya.

I also liked all the details about Lochan and Maya coming up with many stories to cover their mother and keep the family together whereas they could have talked to the Social Services and have lived a regular childhood. The book is not only about an incestuous relationship between a boy and his sister, but the love between siblings. This love is very well written and will make you cry (or, like me, you just have plenty dust in your eyes while reading some chapters).

This is a beautiful and thought-provoking novel that will leave its mark on you. Incest is one of the most complex subject to write about, and Tabitha Suzuma has, for me, an incredible way of writing and creating very interesting characters. I will definitely check out her other Young Adult books!

Because of the nature of the book and some graphic scenes, this book isn't suitable for younger readers.

Thanks to the people at Random House for sending me this book !

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner - Stephenie Meyer

I really can't help posting something about this today. I bought the book yesterday and read it greedily after work.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is the riveting story of Bree Tanner, a vampire first introduced in Eclipse, and the darker side of the world she inhabits. The novella chronicles the journey of members of the newborn vampire army from their preparations to close in on Bella Swan and the Cullen family to its unforgettable conclusion. Summary from Amazon.


I have been a very big fan of the Twilight series (before the first film even came out). But I have been a bit shocked by all the media frenzy and it sort of put me off the whole thing. 
On the other hand, I was impatiently waiting for this novella as soon as I heard it would be published. I thought that the choice of Bree for the novella was highly unusual and I was intrigued.

I absolutely loved it. I whined about the price for the not-even-200p novella, but I loved the characters (I love Bree, Diego and Fred!!!), I love the story and I think that the writing has improved (because I found that there were some flaws in the series - after reading each book ten times)

My favorite parts in the series were the other vampires which looked waaay cooler than the Cullens (sorry, I have a thing for badass supernatural species), like the Denali sisters and others. And this story gives such a good description of Newborns (which we only explored from a certain point of view) and uneducated vampires (to the vampire laws that is). It is actually very informative for when it comes to understanding the other side of Eclipse. But I believe you can read this book even if you aren't a Twilight fan.

I also particularly loved seeing the meadow fight scene through Bree's eyes. You'll understand what happens way better than in Bella's point of view. And it is just wow (yes, so I cried, whatever).

But don't read what I say. 
Go back to when Twilight wasn't the reference in terms of fantasy. 
Forget the Bella and Edward
Forget the actors of the films
Forget the Twi-hards and whatever

And read this novella with the same curious eyes with which you discovered sparkly vampires and forget all the rest that has been building up ever since.
You will love this book. I did !

What did you guys think of the book ? Useful to understanding Eclipse or just fun to read ?